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Formational Service

26 May Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Formational Service
Formational Service
 

Editor’s Note: In the month of May, we’re focusing on the idea of cultivating spiritual formation in the lives of our students – inviting them to meet God by introducing them to spiritual disciplines. In week one, we talked about the very helpful practice of “unplugging.” Week two focused on the role leaders have in guiding students through spiritual disciplines. Week three invited us to reconsider the role of mentoring in spiritual disciplines. Finally, we wrap up this week thinking about the role service has in a student’s spiritual development.

I grew up in the church. Actually, I grew up as a “PK” (pastor’s kid) in the church. That may immediately bring some pictures to mind…

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Unlike most PK’s I know, however, I had a great experience. As I look back on my faith upbringing, I find myself grateful for many people and circumstances, but one piece of my formation stands out above the rest – the opportunities I had to serve. From running the vacuum on a Saturday to running a children’s classroom on Sunday, I was encouraged to use my gifts throughout my entire adolescence.

Now an adult, with 3 PK’s of my own, my desire is for every student to be serving in the local church because of the formation that takes places in their mind, body, and soul. Along with caring, Godly mentors, serving deeply shapes a young person in many ways.

Connects.

When a student serves, it connects them to the life of the whole church. Specifically, it connects them to (1) another ministry area (like kids, tech, or hospitality), (2) the people they are serving, (3) the people they are serving along side, and (4) the mission of the church. This connection helps a student grow deep roots in the church, which will help anchor them to the big “C” church after they graduate.

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Communicates.

When a student serves, it communicates value and trust to them and to the church at large. Just last night I was teaching a class at our church. Tim, age 16, serves in the tech booth. He arrives early, turns everything on, runs the audio and visual presentation, then powers it all down. By giving him a real responsibility and supporting him to ensure success, we have made it abundantly clear to him and the church that we value and trust students to be the church today.

Clarifies.

When a student serves, it helps them clarify their passions and spiritual gifts. Kelly is 14 and she serves as an usher at our 10:45am service. By serving in this role week after week, Kelly has discovered that she has a passion and gift for hospitality. Tim, who I mentioned above, first tried serving with our kids, but he quickly realized that kids drove him crazy! But, he did have a knack for tech, so now he’s thriving in that area. As you engage students in serving, make it safe and easy for them to try out different areas so that they don’t feel like a failure if something did fit quite right.

Common Good.

Scripture makes it clear that all believers, students included, have been given at least one spiritual gift. There is a deeply personal aspect to this truth – the Spirit gives each individual a gift (s) – but the purpose is communal. 1 Cor. 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Ephesians 4:16b, “When each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” When students serve, the whole body is strengthened.

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As you evaluate formational service in your own context, consider asking these questions of yourself and your volunteer team:

  • Connects – Make two lists – every student who is connected to your church through serving, and every student who is not – evaluate each list.
  • Communicates – Does your current church culture and strategy communicate value and trust in students serving? If not, what IS being communicated?
  • Clarifies – What is your process for getting students involved in serving? Are you helping students find their sweet spot or just fill a spot?
  • Common Good – If a church is fully leveraging the gifts of their students, it would be difficult to function without them. Could your church function next week if the students didn’t serve? If you could not, you’re on the right track!
  • At your church, what ministry areas do a great a job of welcoming and including students into serving roles? Thank them personally and publicly. What you celebrate with get repeated!

Josh Rhodes
NextGen Pastor at LCBC Church
Josh is the Next Steps Director at LCBC Church, York Campus. Prior to LCBC, he served at Chestnut Ridge Church in Morgantown, WV. Josh received a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies and Youth Ministries from Lancaster Bible College, and a Master of Arts in Theology from Biblical Seminary. He and his wife Hillary live in Lancaster with their three children - Sephora, Levi, and Pierce.